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MWC operators sweat over Coronavirus threat but maintain show will go on

Mobile World Congress (MWC), one of the largest technology trade shows in the world, is under threat from the ongoing spread of the Coronavirus.

With the death toll of the airborne virus now exceeding 520, many are concerned by the 100,000+ people from over 200 countries that are due to congregate in Barcelona at the end of February.

One such firm is the South Korean LG, which confirmed that it has pulled out of the show over fears of the spread of the virus.

A statement from the company said: “With the safety of its employees and general public foremost in mind, LG has decided to withdraw from exhibiting and participating in MWC 2020 later this month in Barcelona, Spain. This decision will prevent needlessly exposing hundreds of LG employees to international travel, which most health experts have advised.”

Despite the drastic actions of LG, The Verge reports that Xiaomi, Vivo and Honor are still intending on attending the event. The tech outlet also says that Huawei is likely to cancel certain events and reduce the number of employees in attendance.

Spanish newspapers El Pais and La Vangardia reported that ZTE would not host its press conference, but the vendor refuted the claim and stated that it would appear as planned. ZTE went on to tell the BBC that it was cancelling a handset launch event, but that was the only change to its schedule.

The GSM Association (GSMA), organisers of the show, issued its own statement insisting that the show would go ahead as planned on 24-27 February, but added that it will put several measures in place in order to mitigate the spread of the virus.

Such measures include increased cleaning and disinfection of high-volume touchpoints such as catering areas, handrails and toilets; increased onsite medical support; availability of sanitising and disinfection materials for public use; implementing a mic change protocol in production for speakers; and advising all attendees to adopt a ‘no-handshake policy’.

Coronavirus has spread to more than 24,000 people in China and has already had a serious impact on Western companies. Apple has cut its sales forecast as a result of many of its Asian factories being shut down, while Sony told investors that the virus may affect its image sensor production line.

Even Disney made the dramatic decision to temporarily close its Shanghai and Hong Kong theme parks in a move that could cost the company US$175 million. Disney is running on the assumption that both Shanghai Disney Resort and Hong Kong Disneyland could be closed for up to two months.

Tags: Hono, Huawei, LG, MWC, Vivo, Xiaomi, ZTE